Manchester United confront Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, last 16, first leg tie and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t taking the six times running French champions lightly at all.
Even though United are in a great run of form and thrashed Arsenal in the FA Cup at the weekend, Sir Alex doesn’t lose respect for the French giants who got knocked out from the same stage last season. Fergie remarks:
We got the hardest draw in terms of the teams we could have faced, but I think we can navigate it successfully.
Lyon have won their league for the last six years and they’re top again this year, so I expect it to be a tough game.
Losing to Milan last year really hurt us. We just didn’t have the legs. We had a bad injury spell in March, which killed us.
We’d lost Saha from December, then we lost Mikael Silvestre, Ji-Sung Park, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic. Three of those players didn’t play again that season.
Vidic came back against Milan. It was a gamble, one worth taking. Ronaldo was also carrying an ankle injury for that game.
We were well short of being full-strength, whereas Milan had rested players and were primed for that game. We were unlucky. This year, if we stay fit we’ll have a better chance.
To be honest, Sir Alex is exaggerating when he says that they have got the “hardest draw in terms of the teams we could have faced”. Lyon are a strong side but they hav lost much of their better players last summer and are now heavily dependent on midfield ace Juninho and 19-year old striker Benzema. United should get past the French side comfortably in the tie but they must maintain their focus.